iN-CONVERSATION WITH MEGHA NIDHI DAHAL
NOW: Now that some time has passed since the initial euphoria of getting through the UPSC exams, how does it feel?MEGHA NIDHI DAHAL: I definitely feel happy. Sometimes, I find it a little hard to believe as well. But then again, I feel that it is no big deal. If not me, someone else would have been there, probably from a State that has poorer social indicators than ours. This result is a testimony to the fact that the education system in Sikkim is equally competent as any other states in India, perhaps even better.Have you decided which service you are going to opt for and why? Do you have any cadre preference?UPSC seeks service preferences during the main exams stage itself, hence I already have mentioned my service preference in which I have given primacy to IAS, then IPS, the IFS and then the other central services. Even the cadre preferences are sought at that stage. I have opted for Sikkim cadre as my first option.
An engineer by training, you are now going to become an administrator. How do you plan to use your technical skills as an administrator?We are slowly but steadily moving into an era where computers and technology are permeating into every aspect of our lives. Administration specially benefits a lot by application of technologies. My technical knowledge will not only help me to understand and incorporate technologies better in administration but may also help to innovate on them.
When did you decide or realize that you wanted to become a public servant? What do you hope to achieve as a public servant?This dream was well entrenched by my father a long time ago, but I never believed I could. Therefore, I never attempted. Meanwhile the Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme being carried out in a village named Tarabahalli near Bangalore gave me an opportunity to learn what genuine selfless service can achieve. I think that was when I decided to give an attempt and gauge myself. I gave an attempt but didn't qualify even through the prelims.
Being a public servant, I want to be an instrument to bring in tremendous amount of positive change in the society.
Could you walk us through how you prepared for the exams?Nobody can know everything. This thing was well understood. Therefore, for general studies, apart from the standard syllabus that UPSC provides, I focused more on things that I found relevant to day to day life. The key is to know enough on the topic, superficial knowledge is dangerous. I also focused much on newspapers and took note of important details.
I had to put in a little more effort on the optional subject (Geography) as it was completely new.
Overall, I enjoyed the whole process of learning. I was of the view that even if nothing, I will certainly end up being a much more responsible and aware citizen.
Many people see government school education as a limitation. Did you ever feel like that?This is not completely true for Sikkim, to say the least. I was educated in government schools since 8th standard. I was in Tarpin Secondary School (now senior secondary) till 10th and in Namchi Sr. Sec. School till 12th standard. The literacy rate is also much better in the state as compared to the average rate in India, all credits to widespread govt schools.
As an administrator is there anything you would like to change about how education is dispensed in government institutions?There is a talk making rounds that although the enrolment has become near universal, the quality has been steadily going down. This is true for schools across India. My wish would be to look into this aspect into greater detail and find out ways to improve. Also, my association with the Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vahini project as a coordinator for Karnataka Science team and as an IT Volunteer has given me valuable insights on education which I can probably bring into effect.
Now that you have become a role model for other young Sikkimese, what advice would you give to others?My advice to other young Sikkimese is to cultivate broad and positive thoughts and remain far away from divisive and pessimistic thoughts. “Yad Bhaavam, Tad Bhavati” - if you think you can, you certainly will. Civil Services or UPSC is not the only thing, there are many other competitive forums in which we Sikkimese as a whole are behind. We must work to improve our competitiveness. The best way to do that is to believe in your dreams and work towards it without fearing failure.
Lastly, there is a saying that towards the later stages, when we reflect upon our life, we regret more for things that we did not do than on things we did. So, go ahead, pull on your boots and make the world a better place to live in.